Linda Marr, Dr. Kenneth and Lila Foree To Receive Seals Award
Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University announces the selection of three Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award recipients for 2013. Linda Marr of A&M United Methodist Church in the Texas Annual Conference, and Ken and Lila Foree of Highland Park United Methodist Church in the North Texas Annual Conference, will receive the Seals Award at a 12:00 p.m. luncheon March 9, 2013, during the three-day Perkins Theological School for the Laity.
The Seals Award is presented annually to laypersons in the United States who embody the Christian faith and commitment of service to Christ in the church, community, and world as exemplified by Judge Woodrow B. Seals, a distinguished layperson whose interest and energy were instrumental in establishing the Perkins Theological School for the Laity. Selection for the award is made by a committee of the Perkins Lay Advisory Board.
Linda Marr has been an active layperson in A&M United Methodist Church, College Station, Texas, since 1990. Her leadership in the local church began in earnest after she and her husband Bill agreed to serve as youth coordinators. A passion for missions was ignited when A&M UMC took its first mission trip to Juárez, Mexico, in 2002, and Marr subsequently accompanied youth and college students on many trips to Juárez. Marr then joined two other women in the congregation to deliver books to schools in Corazol, Belize, forming a bond with the pastor and congregation there that ultimately led to Marr’s important role in the construction of a high school by the Methodist Church in Belmopan. Speaking of Marr’s important role in a mission trip to deliver insecticide treated mosquito nets to Cote d’Ivoire, Houston Area Bishop Janice Riggle Huie cites Marr’s “exceptional leadership and willingness to give of herself,” adding: “Linda’s devotion to the work of the church, her compassion for the people we encountered, and her obvious love for every child she held were the markings of a Christian who was in her element serving God’s people.”
Back in College Station, Marr helped A&M UMC become a host church for Family Promise network, which houses homeless families in churches as those families seek to become self-sustaining, a ministry she supported as volunteer coordinator for four years. Her ministries at the local church level also included serving on the SPRC committee and leading the Missions Team for three years. She served beyond the local church for three years on the Core Leadership Team of the Texas Annual Conference.
Marr and her husband currently are on the President’s Advisory Council for the Texas Methodist Foundation and she serves on the newly formed Lay Leadership Team of the Texas Annual Conference, as well. In addition to supporting the ministries of the church, Marr is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children. She works part-time in her husband’s ophthalmic practice and looks forward to his retirement when she will have time to travel more extensively and participate in medical mission trips.
Dr. Kenneth and Lila Foree are long-time members of Highland Park UMC in Dallas. Lila joined Highland Park UMC in 1967 and began working on staff there the next year. In 1975, she helped the congregation organize their first medical mission to Haiti, accompanying that first medical mission team to Haiti in October 1976.
Dr. Foree has been a member of Highland Park UMC since 1943. His mother was a Charter Member in 1916, and both his mother and father are alumni of SMU (Class of 1918 and 1919, respectively). After serving as an usher and member of the Administrative Board for many years, Dr. Foree – an ophthalmologist who enjoyed 40 years of private practice in Dallas – began working on the Haiti Medical Mission from Highland Park UMC in 1978. For the next 32 years he and Lila led teams and helped coordinate efforts of Highland Park UMC and the Methodist Church of Haiti to establish a permanent eye clinic in Petit Goave, Haiti. The ministry there grew to include three structures – a clinic, surgery building, and post-op facility. Thousands of people have had their eyesight restored or saved and their lives influenced through this couple’s dedicated service. Dr. Foree also served volunteer eye clinics for school children and others in need in the Dallas area, and gave time each week to help with surgery training for ophthalmology medical students at Southwestern Medical School.
Dr. Foree and his team were in Haiti in January 2010 when an earthquake devastated the region. He was one of several team members trapped in the rubble as the clinic building collapsed. Tragically, one person did not survive. After three years, a new building is going up and a set of dedicated leaders is committed to continuing this mission. Others, using this as a model, have started missions in a number of different areas throughout the world. Rev. Barbara Marcum, associate minister and director of congregational care at Highland Park UMC, praising the Forees for their many years of faithful service, comments, “There is probably not a finer servant couple in the United Methodist community.”
Perkins Theological School for the Laity, scheduled this year for March 7-9, is supported by the Howard-Holbert Endowment Fund. The fund was established in 1986 in honor of the late Dr. Virgil P. Howard, who was associate director of the Perkins Intern Program and professor of Supervised Ministry; and Dr. John C. Holbert, who served as Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology from 1997 until his retirement in 2012.
To register in advance for the luncheon, call 214.768.2251 or register online at www.smu.edu/perkins/seals. The luncheon will be held in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall on the campus of SMU. For a map of the SMU campus, visit smu.edu/maps.
For more information about the Perkins Theological School for the Laity, contact Rev. Gary MacDonald, Director of Advanced Ministerial Studies at Perkins, AdvanceMinistry@smu.edu, 1.888.THEOLOGY (ext. 4). For more information about the Seals Award, contact Rev. Connie Nelson, Director of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations at Perkins, firstname.lastname@example.org, 214.768.2335.